In a bizarre bit of political theater, Mike Huckabee told reporters in Des Moines on Monday that he was not going to broadcast a negative commercial against Mitt Romney, his chief GOP rival in Iowa. Then he showed the ad attacking Romney's record as Massachusetts governor ("Over $700 million in new taxes. Left office with a deficit. ...") to the news media, which in reporting it gave his anti-Romney message free publicity while he claimed the moral high ground.

Huckabee said he decided just an hour before the ad was to run on local TV that he did not want to make the negative atmosphere worse. "It's never too late to do the right thing," he said.

The circumstances of the commercial and the nature of free media, particularly now with YouTube, make it likely that the advertisement will be viewed far more often than if it had simply run.